Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Xenariffic!

"Hooves and Harlots" was the episode that finally did it for me. It strikes a wonderful balance between campy humour and kid-friendly drama: no attempts to make me cry, lots of wit and silliness, but the actors still played it for keeps without just goofing off.

Except Renee O'Connor, of course, who is unapologetically the comic relief. I don't find her annoying in the least, partly because of her superb comic timing and her chemistry with Lucy Lawless, but mostly because of the REAL strength of the show: the writing.

I didn't want to start enjoying Xena because I couldn't see how the writers could keep it up. How long before the jokes become stale, the plots grow repetative, and the fight scenes start repeating themselves? That's still a danger (and I'm sure after six years it got a little old), but thanks to their incredible creative freedom -- drawing willy-nilly from a wealth of classical mythology, license to tweak each episode's tone as they see fit -- it's still surprising me. One minute Xena is a fearsome warrior, and the next she's the "straight man" for some silly merchant or bard.

The strength of the show -- for me -- is its variety. Otherwise each episode would consist of the following elements (sadly enough of them DO follow this formula):
  1. Xena and Gabrielle arrive in the middle of a conflict which consists of either "powerful evil character versus powerless peasants" or "two powerful characters fight each other without regard for the damage done to the powerless peasants."
  2. Xena and Gabrielle get separated for whatever reason.
  3. Xena must prove that she is really trying to help. She usually does this by fighting the "good character" and then refusing to kill him when she wins.
  4. Gabrielle falls in with a hunky guy/soulmate.
  5. When Xena and Gabrielle are finally reunited, there's a huge fight based around some new gimmick.
  6. After the fight, everybody apologizes to Xena for doubting her, and Gabrielle looks sad as her guy either dies or is forced to leave.
  7. The Moral Is Announced. A joke is made at the moral's expense.
Be that as it may, the episodes deviate enough from this (and some of them REALLY deviate) to keep it fresh and interesting.

I still don't really CARE what happens next -- it's mainly a good thing to watch while I'm eating dinner -- but I'm genuinely liking the show, and hopefully I'll continue to like it as it goes on.

1 comment:

floacist said...

Bravo!! lol 'Hooves and Harlots' is an alright episode to me personally, it didn't really leave an impression on me. The episode near the season finale 'The Greater Good' and the finale itself ('Is There a Doctor in the House?') did. I also like 'Callisto' as well, but bot the episode and character are terrible over-rated which really deviates from me truly enjoying it. 'Death Mask' was also a good plot but the terrible casting of the villain (who plays a key character in Xena's back story) ruined everything.

But 'Destiny' more than makes up for it, with a much more [additional] convincing antagonist (Karl Urban from the 'Lord of the Rings' films plays Julius Caesar. The New Zealand acting pool is small isn't it?). All of this probably doesn't make ANY sense to you right now but I thought I'd mention it, lol.

So yeah, let me know when you get up to 'Destiny'!!! (season 2) ;-) And especially 'The Debt' (season 3) but you have awhile to go until than so maybe never mind that. lol